The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

  Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

Constitution Project Joins Coalition in Support of the USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009

Letter of support sent today to House Judiciary Committee members leading this effort


The Constitution Project joined a coalition of 20 advocacy
organizations today in supporting the USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of
2009, legislation introduced last week in the House of Representatives
by Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and Subcommittee Chairmen
Jerrold Nadler and Bobby Scott. The coalition sent a joint letter to
the legislation's sponsors, commending them for working to incorporate
much-needed privacy protections into the overly-broad Patriot Act of
2001, while still providing the federal government with the
surveillance authorities needed to keep our nation safe.

The coalition letter states in part:

"We write to express our support for H.R. 3845, the USA PATRIOT
Amendments Act of 2009. We commend you for introducing legislation that
seeks to limit overly broad provisions of law that have unacceptably
diminished Americans' privacy over the last eight years...We also urge
members of the Committee to reject efforts to weaken the bill and to
report it expeditiously to the full House of Representatives."

The USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009 addresses the three
provisions of the Patriot Act scheduled to sunset at the end of the
year - namely the business records, roving wiretap, and lone wolf
provisions - as well as additional Patriot Act authorities including
the provision on national security letters (NSLs). Two weeks ago, the
Senate Judiciary Committee adopted its version of Patriot Act reform
legislation to reauthorize expiring provisions with new sunsets. By a
vote of 11 to 8, the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act was sent to
the Senate floor. The Senate legislation fails to include many of the
needed reforms embodied in the House version, but does provide some
improved privacy protections.

The following can be attributed to Sharon Bradford Franklin, Constitution Project Senior Counsel:

Constitution Project welcomes the introduction of the USA PATRIOT
Amendments Act of 2009 and calls on the Obama administration to
publicly support the critical reforms contained in this
legislation. Earlier this month, when the Senate Judiciary Committee
considered Patriot Act reforms, the administration was, at best, silent
about whether it would support these constitutional safeguards, while
press reports indicated that the administration did privately share its
views with Senators before various protections were watered down during
markup. We urge the administration now to recognize the importance of
the reforms contained in the House bill, and offer its support for
legislation that would enhance constitutional safeguards while still
providing the government with the tools it needs to combat terrorism."

view the coalition letter send to House Judiciary Committee Chairman
Conyers and Subcommittee Chairmen Nadler and Scott, go to:

month, the Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee
released its Statement on Reforming the Patriot Act, signed by a
diverse bipartisan group of 26 policy experts. To view the Statement,
go to:

The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at